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2014 Downriver League softball preview PHOTOS

  • Allen Park's Chelsea Warga (News-Herald File Photo)
  • Anderson's Allison Ortman (News-Herald File Photo)
  • Trenton's Kristin Aslanian (News-Herald File Photo)

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Allen Park

After losing six talented seniors after last year’s regional final loss, many may think it would be a tough year of rebuilding for the Allen Park softball team.

“Anytime you graduate that many seniors you’re gonna have to rebuild,” Coach Patsy Curnell said. “I do see rebuilding in the sense of rebuilding game experience, but as far as talent, none.

“I am very pleased with the group I have and I think we’re gonna be very competitive.”

After going undefeated to win the Downriver League last season, the Jags are back and ready to go.

The Jags only return four players with varsity experience, but they are good ones.

Hailey Lazarek, already signed to play softball at Wayne State next year returns for her final season and brings the most experience to the field where she’ll play at short stop and third base.

Miranda Hebert returns to the pitching circle after a successful season as a sophomore and will be the number one pitcher this season.

Chelsea Warga will see time in both the infield and the outfield as a returnee this year.

Hayley Bartholomew is back for her junior season, coming off a season-ending injury last spring and Curnell says she is ready to go. She’ll be starting second base and also see time in the circle and in the infield.

Pitching will be strong for the Jags and the team carries four pitchers. Helping Hebert and Bartholomew will be freshmen Sammi Howell and Hailey Genaw.

Sydney Mullins rounds out the senior class.

Rounding out the team will be a strong junior class of eight players along with some talented sophomores and freshmen that Curnell says will fight for spots.

“I’m gonna have freshmen starting,” she said. “They’re pushing each other to get in the lineup, while I like.”

Overall, Curnell is excited about a season with a lot of players who can play multiple positions and bring a lot of talent.

“You’re coming off of being led by the seniors for so long and you’ve just got this new fresh group of kids and I’m just really excited to coach again,” she said. “I don’t feel like we’re any behind where we were last year.

“I think we’re coming in with the exact same amount of talent as last year. At each position I feel very confident of who’s going to be there. It’s like a puzzle now with all the strong pieces and I’m excited to put it all together.”

Curnell said the DRL is getting better and better each year and that her team will not be targeting any opponent over another one.

“I think we’re as strong as every team in the league and we’ll definitely compete,” she said.


Good attitude and a solid core of athletes has longtime Trenton softball Coach John Beidenbach excited for 2014.

“They’ve got a good attitude and they continue to work hard,” he said. “That’s all you can ask.”

The Trojans field a team of 13 players including five seniors returning with much experience.

Kristin Aslanian returns to the field at third base but can also catch and is a backup pitcher.

A third-year varsity player she hit .400 last year and drove in 16 RBI.

Karly Ford is a second basemen, capable of playing the outfield as well. She hit .311 for the Trojans last season.

Returning behind the plate is Michelle Casenow who can hit DH as well. As a junior she hit .392 and had 14 RBI.

Inside the circle, Courtney Neff returns for her senior season and will be the Trojan’s number one to start the season. She was 12-3 last season with 69 strikeouts and a 1.19 ERA. On the offensive side of things she hit .438 and had 30 RBI. When she’s not on the mound she will play first base. Neff is the team’s only returning All League player.

Rounding out the senior class is Josie Palazzolo who hit .308 last year with 17 RBI. Beidenbach calls her the jack of all trades. She’s able to play third base, first base, outfield and DH for the team.

The junior class consists of three players; veterans Samantha Higdon (outfield, second base) and Amber Kuczynski (outfield, infield) as well as Elizabeth Gandolfi (catcher, first, outfield).

Morgan Cooper represents the sophomore class and will see most time at outfield.

The Trojans also bring four freshmen to the field this season.

Hannah Bates will pitch and is capable of playing most infield positions as well as first and Madison Crandall will play short stop and can also play third and outfield.

Shelby Kersten will be behind the plate but can also see shortstop and outfield and Madison Memering will play third base with possibilities at second and catching.

The younger girls are already vying for starting spots.

“In practice it’s been a little bit of competition because they want to play,” Beidenbach said. “We’ve told them if they want a job to start, take it; push the older guys.”

Beidenbach says his team will rely on their versatility this year and said pitching will be a strong point of the season.

“I think that’s gonna carry us most of the time and it’s gonna keep us in some games,” Beidenbach said. “They have been swinging the bat in practice but time will tell.

“With all these younger players … we’re gonna have to mix and match and see what’s gonna happen.”


The Anderson softball team secured its fourth district championship in five seasons last year and although the team graduated four seniors, the bulk of the talent was in the younger players.

This spring the team will rally around star sophomore throwers Mikayla Alexandrou and Maggie Piesz.

Alexandrou allowed just one hit in last year’s district final win over Roosevelt as a freshman. She made the All-News-Herald Dream Team after an 18-win season of 223 strikeouts and a 1.34 ERA. She was also the number one All District pitcher and named to the All District team and All Region team.

“Mikayla has worked hard in the off-season and looks to be even better than she was last year,” Anderson Coach Eric Druchniak said. “She will be our ace, but Maggie will also spend time in the circle and when she’s not Maggie will be starting in outfield.”

The Titans will again have four seniors in the form of Celeste Black, Chelsea Crandall, Marisa Laginess and Madison Small.

Laginess will start at second base and Crandall will mostly be the team’s designated player.

The junior class is composed of six players, four of whom are returning varsity starters.

Katelyn Shivel returns to first base, Brianna Derfiny is back and switching from shortstop to third base and Kennedy Caldwell will be at centerfield.

Returning behind the plate is last year’s star catcher, Allison Ortman. As a sophomore she was named to the All-News-Herald Dream Team, the All Downriver League team, the All District team, the All Region team and was All-State honorable mention. She called every pitch from behind the plate and led the team with a .505 batting average.

Rounding out the junior class are Liz Piesz and Autumn Lockwood.

Replacing last year’s four seniors are four sophomores that Druchniak says will compliment Alexandrou and Piesz.

Kayla Dalton and Julia Pagac are both looking to fill the third base spot and Madison Splan and Brianna Beleski are looking to fill in the remaining outfield spot.

“All four gives us a lot of options and we are very excited to see how much they can produce,” Druchniak said. “There is a ton of talent there in the sophomore class.”

Druchniak is excited for 2014 and says that although his team is younger than last year they have more experience.

“If we can gel as a team, the sky could be the limit of what this team can accomplish,” he said. “The coaching staff can’t wait for the ground to thaw and for us to be able to get outside and start playing.”


A good mix of young and old is what the Carlson softball team will be focusing on this year.

The Marauders only graduated two seniors last year and return a class of eight seniors to lead the squad.

Key returnees include junior Kerstyn (shortstop), sophomore Autumn Egan (pitching) and seniors Kourtney Potter (outfield) and Alyssa Tefend (pitching).

Talented newcomers for Coach Patrick Rice include juniors Juanita Gratowski (outfield), Jordan Pryba (third base) and Payton Howard (first base).

Rounding out the team will be sophomore Kaitlyn McCormack (pitching, first base) and seniors Katie Crampton (outfield), Jenna Tefed (catcher, second base), Jaime Peraino (outfield, third base), Kourtney Payne (first base, outfield, DH), Kayla Loving (third base, shortstop) and Haley Genaw (second base, outfield).

Rice is excited to see how his team meshes as the season gets underway.

“We are looking to improve upon last year’s successes and really push to be as competitive as possible in the league and districts,” he said. “I am most excited to see them play.

“If they work hard and stay focused, the team could have one of those special seasons.”

The Marauders open league play on March 31 at Anderson.


Last year the Melvindale softball team was extremely young and that will pay dividends in the Downriver League this season.

Rey Linares and his Cardinals are looking to make some noise on the field this year with 11 returning varsity players, ready to apply their experience from last year.

The pitching crew will consist of sophomores Autumn Dobrick and Vanessa Lang with classmate Idalis Antone seeing time in the circle as well.

Junior Caitlin Fitzpatrick and sophomore Bailey Konarski will take responsibility behind the plate as the team’s catching tandem with senior Savannah Hoak playing backup catcher.

Dobrick, Lang, Antone, Fitzpatrick, Konarski and Hoak will each provide significant playing time in other defensive positions throughout the season as well.

Seniors Chelsi Holbrook and Marie Gable will be used as utility players along with sophomores Jessica Biggott and Zoe Eubanks.

After missing the 2013 season with an injury, junior Hailey Sauve returns to the field and Linares expects her to be a key contributor to the team’s success this year.

After having their four year consecutive district championship streak broken by Divine Child last year the Cardinals still have a bitter taste in their mouth and are ready to get back at it.

Linares and his team are focusing not only on winning a Downriver League title but a deep run into the state playoffs as well.

“These Cardinals understand that their focus must be steadied first and foremost on the Downriver League and various tournaments scheduled this year prior to the playoffs,” Linares said.

As 2014 gets underway, Linares is looking forward to the possibilities.

“Our coaching staff couldn’t be more excited and anxious to get this team into action and watch them go,” he said. “We expect very positive results from this outstanding young team this season, and the future is looking very strong as well.”


Senior leadership is what first-year Coach Rick Weise says will carry his team a long way in 2014.

The Warriors return a senior class of six talented players including; Alicia Craig, Erin Marvaso, Maddie Clark, Madeline Saterlee, Hannah Fisher and Leah Pletcher.

“Being my first year as head coach, I have high expectations for this team,” Weise said. “We have a ton of talent. We have great senior leadership that can carry us a long way.

“With hard work, our season will be a very successful one.”

Returning juniors Kasey Cassette and Brigette Oliver are also expected to contribute nicely to the team.

Key newcomers for the team include freshman Selena LaSorda and sophomores Brianna Charron and Emma Sikina who Weise says will all have key roles on the team for years to come.

The thing that has Weise most excited is the team’s hitting.

“I don’t see a weak hitter in this lineup,” he said. “With new hitting coach and former Woodhaven alum, Christina Leal in charge, I see them getting even better throughout the season.”


It will be a year of changes for the Bears’ softball team this season.

After a disappointing loss to Anderson in the district championship game last season, the team said goodbye to seven talented seniors.

However, Coach Jackie Jagellio does have quite a few faces returning to the field as the 2014 season gets underway.

Helping to lead the team will be returning seniors Miranda Macko on the mound, Sydni Pauley behind the plate and Tierney Runions in center field.

Also returning to the field are sophomores Eleya Montroy at first, Selene Pauley in the outfield and Alea Kainz who will be moving to the infield.

Rounding out the team will be juniors Shelby Groat, Maya Ross, Samantha Campbell, Katie Guckian, Savanna Hall and sophomore Ashley Ouellette.

“We are looking forward to this season,” Jagielleo said. “The Downriver League is always competitive and I feel that we put together a team that is ready to accept the challenge.”


After graduating eight seniors last season, Coach Jeana Rybski will have almost a brand new team on the field in 2014.

Truman does return two seniors in the form of Mariah Hopkins who will mostly play at short stop and Chloe Herrera who will see time at first base.

Back on the mound again is sophomore Tiara Henderson along with junior Aubrey DeVoy, both of whom are in the outfield when not pitching.

Junior Brittany Conyer will help in the pitching circle as well.

Junior Haley Leleniewski looks promising in the outfield and junior Quartney Alchin is expected to spend some time at second base.

Junior Monik Shepherd will see time at first and returner Alexa Bailey will be catching behind the plate and also see time at third base.

Hannah Hall, the team’s only freshman will share spots with Bailey at third and behind the plate and both bring strong bats to the offense.

Sophomore Megan Earl returns to the outfield and sophomore Moriah Benak comes in with a strong bat.

Sophomore Bianca Warner helped out when brought up for some games last season and will see time at second base this year.

Rybski says she feels her team is ready on the offensive side and will continue to work on the defensive side of things.

“It will take some time for us to mesh defensively with all the newcomers to the team” she said. “We have a very versatile team (and) each is ready to fill in where needed.”


A young team is what the Kennedy softball team will be bringing to the field this year, but there are still a few veterans.

The Eagles bring back seven returning players, including four starting sophomores from last year.

The team will be led by two seniors in 2014. Mariah Warn will take care of responsibilities behind the plate and fellow classmate Shelby Nester will hold down the fort at first base.

Coaches Samantha Cain and Randy Blackburn are expecting both to step up and be great leaders this season.

Three year varsity starter Carly Roberts is back for her junior season and will be staring shortstop and also see time on the mound.

Leanna Cloutier has improved from last season and coaches expect her to get a lot of at bats this season. Rounding out the junior class is Destinee Francis who will help take care of things in the outfield.

The sophomore returnees include Emily Boswell at third base who was All Downriver League honorable mention last season and led the Eagles in hitting.

Ashley Romanek will be taking over centerfield and is one of the team’s most improved players. Kierstin Mascaro will be back at second base and is expected to contributed well at the plate and Sydney Harding will continue to build her pitching career on the mound.

New sophomore additions are Marissa Marasco and Zayla Estell who will both see time in the outfield. Rounding out the team are freshmen Morgan Zackiewicz and Breanna Fisher as utility players who are expected to see quite a bit of playing time.

Lincoln Park

The Lincoln Park softball team will have a new look in 2014. Only five players are returning to the field from last year, but it has made way for six new, talented players.

Despite the youth, Coaches Patty Messer and Brittany Doyle are very excited for this spring.

Rana Alvarez is the team’s only senior and will be back at her starting spot at second base.

“Over the years Alavarez has been a dedicated player and a fantastic leader,” Messer said about her senior.

The junior class is the biggest, with five players and only one new face.

Alyssa Matusko returns behind the plate after making the All District team in 2013. Brenae Perkins and Maddy Moore will take care of things in the outfield.

Returning to the mound is Brittany Richmond who was the Rails’ only thrower last year. This year she will be helped out by Mallory Evans who missed last season from surgery.

Melissa Shipley is the team’s only sophomore and was brought up late last season. She will help out in the pitching circle and play outfield as well.

Rounding out the team are four freshmen. Alaina Healy will be at first base and also see time in the outfield and Daelyn Moore will help with pitching and other utility positions.

Selena Deault will control the infield in the shortstop spot and also see time behind the plate and Brittany Bowens will play mainly third. Both are expected to contribute strongly at bat.

Last Updated: 4/1/2014 3:03:22 PM EST